Find the right number of donor newsletters for your fundraising [Newsletter Tuesday]

Newsletter Tuesdays: A series about doing more with your donor newsletter.

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How many times should you send a donor newsletter per year?

That’s kind of a “how long is a piece of string” question, but here’s some information that might be helpful:

What others do

First, the sad news: Most organizations don’t have a donor newsletter. Some have a newsletter that donors receive, but it doesn’t function as a donor newsletter, because it’s not a “here’s what you’re helping make possible” piece, but a “look at what we’re doing” piece. Which is a waste of time and money.

Most organizations that do donor newsletters send one to four newsletters per year. That seems to be about where the sweet spot is. Some send more, up to 12 per year.

How to decide how many donor newsletters you should send

Three factors:

  1. Capacity. A donor newsletter is a lot of work. More work than a direct mail appeal. It’s going to take one or more people a lot of hours. Given your staffing, how many hours can you spare? As great as a donor newsletter is, please don’t ruin anyone’s life by piling too much on them! Outsourcing is a great solution, but even then, it will take some staff time!
  2. Content. The soul of a great donor newsletter is stories. Do you have stories to tell? Some organizations do, with many programs impacting many people, and those people are accessible. Other organizations struggle to find stories, because the work is inherently not dramatic, or they simply have no access to their stories. Don’t back yourself into producing newsletters that have few or no stories.
  3. Performance. Net revenue is not the primary purpose of a donor newsletter — they exist mainly to improve donor retention. But a donor newsletter should produce revenue. In my experience, if they don’t, they also aren’t doing much to improve retention. Some donor newsletters are as strong as appeals, though most are a bit lower than that. You may have a donor base and/or a cause that just doesn’t lend itself to high-producing newsletters. That pushes you toward doing fewer of them.

The alignment of those three factors tells you how many newsletters you should do. If any of those areas is pinching you, you’re probably producing too many. But if everything is good, you might be doing too few.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.